Philly Plans Public Plaza Outside Expanded Convention Center

City officials are planning to build a $3 million public plaza in Center City Philadelphia, where it would serve as an outdoor link between the newly expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center and Philadelphia's "Museum Mile" cultural district, local newspaper The Philadelphia Inquirere reported last week.

The half-block plaza is set to include a public park, an al fresco restaurant, a sculpture garden and a gateway to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

"For many people, it's going to be the first thing they see in Philadelphia," Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts President Ted Lewis told the Inquirer. "It's important for Philadelphia and people's sense of Philadelphia—that it's a safe city, a sensible city, a city that values art. It's a way of linking up the convention center with the Museum Mile and really making it a vital part of Philadelphia."

Added Academy Chair Don Caldwell, "It will add an element to the convention center that it has never had: a beautiful outside space that is readily accessible."

The Pennsylvania Convention Center, which is adjacent to the planned plaza, is currently undergoing a massive expansion that's scheduled for completion in early 2011. If its construction is approved, work on the plaza will begin in Summer 2010 and end in March 2011, just in time for the scheduled opening the expanded convention center.